'Bean Dad' John Roderick apologizes, says can opener story was 'poorly told'

Twitter ladled out a bowl full of hurt on the Seattle musician over the weekend.

Gael Cooper
CNET editor Gael Fashingbauer Cooper, a journalist and pop-culture junkie, is co-author of "Whatever Happened to Pudding Pops? The Lost Toys, Tastes and Trends of the '70s and '80s," as well as "The Totally Sweet '90s." She's been a journalist since 1989, working at Mpls.St.Paul Magazine, Twin Cities Sidewalk, the Minneapolis Star Tribune, and NBC News Digital. She's Gen X in birthdate, word and deed. If Marathon candy bars ever come back, she'll be first in line.
Expertise Breaking news, entertainment, lifestyle, travel, food, shopping and deals, product reviews, money and finance, video games, pets, history, books, technology history, generational studies. Credentials
  • Co-author of two Gen X pop-culture encyclopedia for Penguin Books. Won "Headline Writer of the Year"​ award for 2017, 2014 and 2013 from the American Copy Editors Society. Won first place in headline writing from the 2013 Society for Features Journalism.
Gael Cooper
3 min read
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"Bean Dad" is sorry, and he wants the world to know his daughter wasn't completely deprived of food during their six-hour can opener war that became one of 2021's first Twitter debacles over the weekend. Seattle musician and podcaster John Roderick drew the wrath of thousands for tweeting that he forbade his 9-year-old from eating until she figured out a manual can opener she'd never seen used. But now he's posted an apology to his website, and says he and his daughter were sharing other snacks at the time, and her mother was also present.

"My story about my daughter and the can of beans was poorly told," Roderick, founder of The Long Winters and a one-time candidate for Seattle City Council, wrote on his site. "I didn't share how much laughing we were doing, how we had a bowl of pistachios between us all day as we worked on the problem." He also said the two had eaten a full breakfast a few hours before.

He also said his daughter's mother was in the room during the day, which wasn't mentioned in the original story, and that she was "alternately laughing at us and telling us to be quiet." And while the original thread made it sound as if Roderick was dedicated to assembling a puzzle at his child's expense, he now says, "we all took turns on the jigsaw puzzle."

In Roderick's original 23-tweet thread, he tells his daughter neither of them will eat until she figured out the can opener's mechanism, leaving her to tell him she hated him and spend six hours trying to open a can of baked beans.

"A lot of the language I used reminded people very viscerally of abuse they'd experienced at the hand of a parent," Roderick said in the apology. "The idea that I would withhold food from her, or force her to solve a puzzle while she cried, or bind her to the task for hours without a break, all were images of child abuse that affected many people very deeply. Rereading my story, I can see what I'd done."

The singer also apologized for numerous racist and anti-Semitic tweets, as well as rape jokes, he had sent in the past, all of which which resurfaced thanks to the Bean Dad drama.

"I can say only this: All of those tweets were intended to be ironic, sarcastic," Roderick wrote, going on to add that "my language wasn't appropriate then or now."

Roderick deleted his Twitter account on Sunday "in a panic," he now says, after his "Bean Dad" story continued to trend.

"I have a lot more reflecting to do in the coming days so I'll be taking a hiatus from my public life to let some of these lessons sink in," he wrote.

Jeopardy champion Ken Jennings, who co-hosts the podcast Omnibus with Roderick, was one of those who defended Roderick  on Sunday, tweeting, "If this reassures anyone, I personally know John to be (a) a loving and attentive dad who (b) tells heightened-for-effect stories about his own irascibility on like 10 podcasts a week."